Taiwan president no bumbler, spokesman responds to Economist report

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The Presidential Office yesterday called for concerted efforts by the government and the public to jointly break through the current economic difficulties.

Fan Chiang Tai-chi, spokesman of President Ma Ying-jeou, made the call in response to a report in The Economist magazine saying that Ma seems to appear as an ¿ineffectual bumbler¿ as satisfaction with his administrative performance has plummeted to a record low of 13 per cent, citing a survey by the TVBS Poll centre.

The British magazine reported that Ma had offered Taiwanese people high hopes that the island's economy would open a new chapter.

Ma promised groundbreaking agreements with China to help end Taiwan's growing economic marginalisation.

At the time, Ma's image was of a clean technocrat able to rise above the cronyism and infighting of his party, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT).

He was a welcome contrast to his fiery and pro-independence predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, now in jail for corruption, according to the report.

However, the magazine also said that ordinary citizens in Taiwan have not seen their livelihoods improve, with salaries remaining stagnant for a decade.

Housing units in former working-class areas on the edge of capital Taipei now cost up to 40 times the average annual wage of US$15,400, said the report.

In response, Fan Chiang said that the economic environment of Taiwan is currently facing severe tests due to drastic changes on both the domestic and international fronts.

But the ruling team will continue reviewing the new situations for active improvement with full efforts, he said.

He also urged the public to work together with the government to overcome the difficulties.

Fan Chiang pointed out that against the prevailing gloomy economic environment, the government's efforts have brought forth some positive developments, including the improving indicator on business conditions, a 17.41-per cent increase in direct foreign investments as of September, and a steep capital injection growth of 298 per cent from investors of mainland China.

Taiwan still maintains its international competitive edge as shown in major international surveys, including BERI that puts Taiwan's investment environment as the fourth best in the world, he said.

Forbes magazine also gives Taiwan a high ranking of 16th as the most suitable for doing business in the world. Taiwan was assigned third place in Asia, ahead of both Japan and South Korea, said Fan Chiang.

It is true that the domestic economy has not yet fully recovered, but the nation and people should avoid self-effacing by ignoring the positive developments, he said.

President Ma himself is still dissatisfied with the achievements so far and the government will step up efforts with full confidence to overcome the difficulties, he stressed.

He urged the public to join hands with the government to work closely to achieve the goal at an earlier date.

Some economic analysts noted that Ma has promised to bring Taiwan people a ¿golden decade¿ after assuming office. However, he and his team have to first make up the ¿lost decade¿ wasted by his two processors.

The real game for Ma now is to ¿make up¿ the lost time and then ¿catch up¿ with economic front runners at full speed, they observed.


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